In 1927 Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented the first automatic bread slicing machine. His first sale was in 1928 to a bakery in Chillicothe, Missouri and his second was to a baker in St. Louis that same year. In 1930 sliced bread was mass introduced with the roll out of Wonder Bread by Continental Baking Company (the company that also gave us the Twinkie!). Here’s the announcement of sliced bread in the Chillicothe newspaper on July 6, 1928:
The phrase “the coolest thing since sliced bread” or “the best thing since sliced bread” is a common phrase. I use it 5 – 10 times a year. Originally, the phrase was “a way of hyping a new product or invention may have come into use based on an advertising slogan for Wonder Bread, the first commercial manufacturer of pre-wrapped, pre-sliced bread. With such products rapidly penetrating the American home, automated bread-making was not only an invention benchmark, but also a key indicator of the mechanization of daily life from the 1930s onward.” Source. Now, it is used to refer to a product or invention that makes our lives easier.
Sliced bread is pretty great, but what are some other things invented since sliced bread that are better than sliced bread? Here are my nominations:
1. Remote Controls. Being able to control your TV, garage door, ceiling fan, fireplace, music, unlock your car, etc. remotely is something we now take for granted. I am old enough to remember not having TV remotes and then the introduction of remotes that were wired! Getting up to change the channel was a buzzkill!
2. Backup Cameras in Cars. How did we live without backup cameras? Prior to backup cameras, I reversed into three different cars! Expensive!
3. Drip coffee makers. It wasn’t until the 1970s that drip coffee makers began to replace the old percolator coffee makers which took a long time to brew. The introduction of a clock with a programable start on coffee makers was also a game changer.
4. Suitcases with wheels. While the first wheeled suitcase was invented in 1954, they didn’t catch on until flight crews began using them in the late 1980s. Prior to then people just carried their suitcases!
5. GPS. Even though widespread use of GPS is relatively recent, it is now hard to imagine life without GPS. Talk about something that is cooler than sliced bread — not having to ask for directions or using a map to figure out where to go is something we take for granted.
Update: other honorable mentions people have suggested: garage door openers, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, washing machines, garbage disposals, computers, calculators, and cell phones.
The fully automatic espresso machine for me superseded drip coffee machines from about 1998. It makes better coffee than drip because it works at a slightly lower temperature with pressure, so the coffee is not as bitter, and it uses beans which hold the flavor until they are ground on demand. Espresso refers to the method, not the length – on my DeLonghi the length and strength are both adjustable. My machine costs around $500; amortized over all the coffee I make in seven years (each of the first three lasted seven years), my coffee is about 25 cents a cup in total.
This is a fun IFOD!
My favorites: Great Clips hair salons, Waze in your car (I know that this is under GPS but it still is amazing), parking apps, Alexa (instant access to my favorite classical music station, weather, outside temp, etc.), gym in my house (!), a good nap, etc. Luv2Nap
Loved the article. Wireless/radio technology in general is a fascinating game changer that was discovered/invented in the 1890’s and has been extended to applications ranging from remotes to cell phones to Wi-Fi to gps. There is probably an incredible IFOD article to be written just on the importance of the discovery of wireless transmission. I also think that air conditioning was a game changing invention for humanity, especially for those of us living in the south:)
I recall a TV remote control from the 1950″s that used tuning forks to change the channel. It was in my fraternity house in the early 1960″s. My first drip coffee maker was from the Netherlands. It was a Phillips and I bought it is 1969. Mr. Coffee came along a few years later.
What about computers and Google. Just think how we can look up anything in seconds now vs looking up in an encyclopedia or going to a library. The list goes on but you made a good point.
Yes. The list of things better than sliced bread goes on and on and on. Vacuum cleaners, Bluetooth, cell phones, Peloton bikes, the clapper, etc.
What about garage door openers (OK, maybe under the remote category; and, garbage disposals, What happened to trash compactors?!
Those are great ones!
Drip coffee makers? Really? An old fashioned Italian mocha on the stove top – miles better. Strong dark, fragrant and waiting till it bubbles through only enhances the overall pleasure. Some stuff is best NOT mucked about with.
You missed out the MAIN one – NON-sliced bread! OK, so it isn’t an invention, I get that, but really, almost ANY bread is better than that bought ready sliced. However, to get the same convenience, I DO slice my home made loaves before freezing!
Great point Suzie. Thanks.